Spaghetti Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing

Nothing worse than falling asleep while typing. In the midst of working on this last night I apparently fell asleep and Mom told me to go to bed. Please bear with me *pleads softly* Wednesdays have become the “I can’t get anything done” day 🙂 Yes, served up with a pie, large fries…oh and a large coffee, and make it snappy!

First off I get downstairs to pour a bottle of Italian dressing on the veggies I had chopped from the previous night, mind you I have at that point only had two sips of coffee and found there was no dressing. Brick wall…me….BAM! I quickly text my Dad and ask him if he had indeed gotten a bottle of Italian dressing. Oops, sorry. Ok, it’s not like I haven’t had this happen before. Seriously I’ve learned from the best on how to punt and think of solutions on the fly(can’t thank my Mom enough for those lessons). To my iPad I went! Looking for any quick recipe for an Italian dressing…and that’s when I found Maria’s Real Life Dinner site. There I found her how to post on making an Italian Dressing Mix. Now I didn’t find her site right away, there were a few others with Italian dressing recipes that called for ingredients I tend to not keep on hand, it’s discouraging to constantly run into those sites. I don’t know about you but I then start to think that such a recipe is impossible to make at all unless I have Romano cheese, white wine and red wine vinegars, etc.

I skipped through her post, in haste and in no disrespect, down to her recipe and scanned through it. Mentally I was saying, yes, yes, yes, yes, kind of yes, yes,yes…and just as I typed that Meg Ryan from When Harry Met Sally just popped into my head…ok, as I went through the ingredient list I came to the end, gasped and said no. Alright, just for the record there are very few things that will make me gasp in horror, not having an ingredient will pretty much do it for me. But I was determined, after all 1/4 tsp of anything REALLY doesn’t make THAT big of a difference, right? Well, at least not in my book 🙂 So I left out the celery salt, eventually I’ll get some and add it next time.

With renewed determination I set about in making Maria’s Italian dressing mix and kept telling myself  to not look at the kitchen clock. Yeah, we got an hour late start in the end, but I must say her recipe was worth it! No joke, it’s light, refreshing, has a nice bite to it. Especially when used on the Spaghetti Salad recipe! I’m tempted to make extra mix to keep on hand to make 3/4 cup of dressing as needed 🙂

Homemade Italian Salad Dressing MIx

Picture From Real Life Dinner Blog Click The Picture To Get The Recipe

 

It’s an easy recipe to put together and tastes a 1000 times better than the store bought stuff. But I couldn’t help but feel a tad apprehensive in using this for the spaghetti salad. But I’m so glad I did 🙂 I first started off marinading my veggies after making the dressing.

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Just love rainbow veggies!!

Over at Six Sisters Stuff I stumbled across the spaghetti salad that was really too good to pass up. During my menu planning I always write down the necessary ingredients that I’ll need and make sure to put them on the grocery list. And I was surprised all I really needed was the dressing, sweet peppers and cheese. This recipe has everything that peaked my interest. Raw veggies, yummy dressing, and cheese!

 

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Spaghetti Salad Recipe

Author: Six Sisters’ Stuff
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep time:  20 mins
Cook time:  8 mins
Total time:  28 mins
Serves: 15
The perfect side dish for a party, potluck, or BBQ because it feeds a crowd! It’s also full of flavor and simple to throw together, making it an instant favorite!

 Ingredients

  • 1 pound thin spaghetti, broke into 3-4″ pieces
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium yellow zucchini squash, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 2 (2.25 oz) cans sliced olives, drained
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes

Dressing:

  • 1 (16 oz) bottle Italian dressing (I love Wishbone Robusto Italian)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Topping:

Instructions

  1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, then rinse in cold water and drain. Set aside and let cool.
  2. Place tomatoes, zucchini, squash, peppers, onion, cucumber, olives, and cheese in a large bowl. Add cooled spaghetti noodles and mix well.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together dressing, Parmesan cheese, paprika, garlic powder. Pour on top of the spaghetti and vegetables and mix until completely combined. Sprinkle the top with Salad Supreme.
  4. Let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving (this salad gets better with time, as the flavors meld together).

 

 I did take few a liberties with this recipe(no shocker there). I had to tailor it to my family’s taste, not everyone in my family is wild about raw red onion, cucumber, raw green bell pepper or black olives. Man, I have a tough crowd to please *sighs* Never say die! I omitted those items and replaced the red onion with green onions(scallions), used a handful of mini sweet peppers(red, orange, yellow), and the cheese I opted for was a seriously sharp white cheddar. It has a nice bite to it, perhaps too much if you’re not used to it. Instead of cubing the cheese I shredded it for easier eating. But you don’t have to do that.
Feel free to use any cheese you prefer, my nephew wasn’t too sure about the overall flavor. I’m thinking it’s because he’s not an Italian dressing fan, he’s more of a Mediterranean dressing lover. Which I’m sure could be used instead and add feta cheese to it. My Mom really liked it, couldn’t stop eating it in fact! LOL
And here I would have thought the raw veggies wouldn’t be a hit with her. I did dice up certain vegetables such as the peppers, since those tend to be the crunchiest.

I even took some to a few ladies at my church and already one has told me she just had to taste it last night after getting home, told me it was yummy and that she would be having it for lunch today 🙂 There is no denying that the combination of seriously shard white cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and dressing that this salad has a distinct bite to it. If you want to reduce that you could balance out the tang with a little sugar or reduce the amount of dressing and tomatoes that get used. I only used two roma tomatoes instead of three, but I absolutely loved it! It was surprisingly light, refreshing, not at all heavy and could easily be paired with a grilled or baked chicken. However, just as it is it makes for a lovely vegan and vegetarian summer dinner salad! And it can also be made lower in carbs by using Dreamfield’s pasta, which is what I did! I don’t have the exact numbers ready for this post, but I will put that on my list of things to get done hopefully by this weekend.

I hope you all enjoy these two recipes, please be sure to go the Real Life Dinner and Six Sisters Stuff blogs to leave your reviews 🙂 Hope you all enjoy and have a blessed day!!

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Crunchy Top Casserole

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Afternoon everyone, I know it’s Monday. It’s not everyone’s favorite day of the week but I hope you’re making the best of it as much as possible. Our school day is dragging on, my headache in tow. Not exactly sure why I have a headache, woke up with it and haven’t been able to shake it. Just one of them days I guess.  -.-

 

Last week, as you may remember, I didn’t menu plan at all and was pretty much flying by the seat of my pants. It’s not an unpleasant thing to do, it tends to open the creative gates every now and then. Which is exactly what it did last Friday night. I don’t suggest that anyone get too lazy and forget to plan a week’s worth of meals. Even when I do meal plan I might leave a couple of days open for whatever pops into my head. And the Crunchy Top Casserole was such a recipe that I drew from other related recipes that I’ve made in the past and just went from there.

I’ll just say this now, my family scarfed this casserole up! In fact, my own mother said I just needed to make the topping on a baking sheet alone 🙂 I love them, when they praise they go all out! I will admit that the topping is quite yummy, a nice contrast to the creamy casserole. Definitely a tried, true and tasty dish!

 

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This is a quick recipe, a little precooking involved, but the over all time is 50 minutes for baking.

Crunchy Top Casserole

(Yields 8-10 servings)

Ingredients

1 pound tater tots, thawed and crumbled**

1 small onion, chopped

1 pound sausage, cooked

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cans cream of chicken and mushroom soup

8 oz sour cream

1 large jar pimentos, drained

4 oz potato chips, crushed**

2 cups shredded cheese

1 Tblsp paprika

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Crumble thawed tots into baking pan(I always use a disposable aluminum roasting pan for our casseroles, but you could use a 9×13 or a lasagna pan). Set aside.
Brown sausage with onions and garlic. Drain off fat. Stir in soup, sour cream, and pimentos. Fold into the crumbled tots in pan and smooth out evenly. In a gallon size bag crush potato chips(not into a fine dust, leave some large bits), combine with cheese and paprika. Spread over casserole, cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes to finish melting the cheese and to crisp up the topping. Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes before serving.

**COOK NOTES**

You can certainly use any form of frozen potatoes that you like. We keep tater tots in the house most of the time. You can choose to use shredded potatoes, cubed hash browns or hash rounds. Just be sure they are thawed completely. If you choose to use hash rounds they will need to be crumbled just as the tots. The shredded or cubed potatoes will not needed to be crushed or crumbled.

To avoid having to measure out potato chips to crush, simply grab 4–1 oz bags of potato chips. Open them and crush them inside each bag before adding them to the bowl of shredded cheese and paprika. Cuts out the use of a gallon size bag.

Now, if there are any questions feel free to shoot me an email(nightowlkitchen@yahoo.com), comment below, or leave your Q’s on Instagram (@nok_amandagayle) where I have shared the above picture. Hope you all enjoy and have a wonderful day!!

 

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Crunchy Creamy Goodness

Onion Soup Stroganoff

I realize that this post is overdue, Wednesday was not a good day at all. When you wake up with a gurgling stomach you can betcha that the rest of the day is guaranteed to be a loss. I rallied myself long enough to frost 24 cupcakes for the Wednesday night class I teach, only I wasn’t able to be there with them. Thankfully my Dad and nephew were able to take them in for me, received feedback from the other teacher and one of the parents that the cupcakes were a hit 🙂 That certainly helped to perk up my evening!

Well, last Saturday I fell down on my job of menu planning for the week. I was in a funk to begin with and I’ve had to get creative with our evening meals. Tuesday was a play on two favorite dishes…Salisbury Steak and Beef Stroganoff. Now, the marrying of these two dishes just seemed right in my head. For one it would be something quick to make(ground beef is a life saver btw) and two it would give new life to one of my favorite comfort foods.

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I chose to serve this with cut green beans and skillet browned butter bread which came in handy in sopping up the gravy. Oh yes, you will definitely want to make that bread!

Onion Soup Stroganoff

(Yields 8-10 servings)

2 pounds ground beef

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup beef broth

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1 pkg onion soup mix

8 ounces cream cheese, sliced

1 can cream of mushroom soup

Salt and pepper to taste

Parsley, optional

Egg Noodles

Directions

Brown beef with onions and garlic, drain fat if desired. Add beef broth, mushrooms, and soup mix. Cover and simmer on low for 10 minutes. Stir in cream cheese and cream of mushroom soup. Continue to cook on low for another 10 minutes while boiling egg noodles. Season with salt and pepper to your taste and add in a healthy amount of either fresh or dried parsley. Drain the noodles and plate it up.

Serve hot.

 

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Skillet Browned Butter Bread

(This is a simple recipe, use any bread you prefer.)

Bread

Butter

Skillet

Directions

Butter both sides of the bread and cook in a medium high temp skillet until golden brown. Serve immediately.

 

This bread was killer, it really complimented the stroganoff perfectly! Even G-Man was in love with it so much that he gave it two thumbs up three times…so I guess that would be six thumbs… Everyone has said that I need to make the bread again soon. Both of these recipes are definitely going into the tried, true and tasty file!

You might be wondering where the sour cream was for the Stroganoff. Well, I replaced it with the cream cheese, and it was a wonderful trade off! The gravy was thick, substantial, and very filling! If you want a thinner gravy feel free to add sour cream, milk, or heavy cream. But I urge you to try it with the cream cheese, it is most excellent!

Happy Eating!

Supreme Nachos

I didn’t grow up with a mom who went to all the trouble of making game day food for those FSU games. Yeah, growing up here in the south we didn’t watch the Alabama/Auburn games. Seeing that we were from Florida and being in a family that was divided between the Seminoles and Gators, I grew up a Noles fan for the longest time. Now, I’m not a fan of any of it. So we just didn’t do the whole chips and dip, wings, pizza, or oodles of soda and sweet treats thing, could have been because we didn’t have the extra funds to do stuff like that and it really wasn’t that big of a deal. Money went towards putting food on the table for a family of 5, special foodie days were for holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, and New Years Day. This is why I haven’t really promoted the whole tailgatin’, game day grubbin’, football recipe sharing route. It’s foreign to me, I do see great recipes on other sites and think wow that looks great to take to the next church social or Ladies get together. My mind doesn’t go to the next football game gathering.

Ok, before I sound like a broken record because I’m sure y’all have gotten the idea now….supreme nachos are going to be my contribution to the web 🙂 They’re easy, makes a lot and boy it is a crowd pleaser! I had to make a second pan last night because the fam just devoured the first pan as if they had never had nachos before! lol

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My nephew thought I was making a nacho casserole, quite frankly even I wasn’t too sure how it was going to turn out but to his surprise(and well mine too) this turned out even better! When he saw the pan sitting on the stove top his first reaction was “whoa!” Yeah, I like that reaction 🙂

Supreme Nachos

(For 1 pan of nachos)

1 bag of favorite tortilla chips

1 pound ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 package favorite taco seasoning

1 can black beans, with liquid

1 can corn, drained

salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp oregano

1 can refried beans

1 package cream cheese, softened

1 large tomato, chopped

2–3 scallions, chopped or 1 small yellow onion, diced

2 cup 4 cheese mexican cheese blend

lettuce for garnish

sour cream (optional)

guacamole (optional)

salsa (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking sheet with release foil.

Spread out your favorite tortilla chips on the pan. If it’s not all a single layer that’s ok. 

Brown the beef with onion and garlic. Drain the fat if you want, add in taco seasoning, black beans, corn, oregano, salt and pepper(if needed). Let simmer to bring together the flavors. While the meat mixture is cooking, chop up scallions, tomato, and lettuce. Set all aside in separate bowls.
In a medium size microwave safe bowl soften cream cheese. Cream with a hand mixer and add in refried beans mixing until cream cheese and beans are complete combined. Set aside.

Now it’s time to built the nachos! Dollop the cream cheese mixture all over the chips. Spread gently if you can, if not don’t worry about it. Spoon the meat mixture on, sprinkle around the tomatoes and scallions. Top with cheese and bake for 15 minutes.

Serve with sour cream, guacamole, and salsa!

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These were insanely good! Everyone said it reminded them of the taco dip that we all love, that’s because of the cream cheese refried beans mixture. This recipe is definitely tried, true, and oh so tasty! Make it today for your game day buddies or serve it up for your family during the week. Leftovers? Well, let me know if you have any because I will guarantee you there won’t be any 😉

Don’t forget to get to check out the Wrapping for PCOS fundraising party on Facebook! Kim and I are itching to do some giveaways 😀 And Jamberry still has their buy 3 get 1 free offer going on, with so many wraps to choose from you’ll definitely want to take advantage of that!

Have a great day!!

Wrapping for PCOS: New Teal Wrap for Teal Tuesday!!

Afternoon everyone! Today is Teal Tuesday, do you got some teal on? Don’t have anything in teal to wear? You’re in luck! Jamberry has released a new teal nail wrap with white polka dots, it’s so cute! Kim and I are both in love with the boysenberry wraps that pair so beautifully with the teal 🙂 Wanna see?

 

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Aren’t those just gorgeous?! I even found a wrap that has a jogger on it for those who like to jog/run. But the fun doesn’t stop there 🙂 If you want to add a little bling to your nails there’s an icy boysenberry wrap.

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Pair that with solid teal nails and it will certainly pop! Of course if you want less bling but still want to have that “wow” effect there is even a boysenberry chevron pattern that is fun for all ages!

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These wraps are so versatile and pretty! You can buy 3 and get 1 free, share them with friends, family, co-workers…Cysters, have a wrapping party with your girlfriends. Get together on a weekend, bring your wraps, cuticle pushers, and don’t forget the snacks 🙂 There’s no drying time with these wraps, so in 10 minutes you’re going to have a professional looking mani/pedi and the rest of the night can be all fun and games!!

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Since this Jamberry party is to help raise funds for the PCOS Foundation, when checking out please remember to pick “Wrapping for PCOS” during checkout. This way, a portion of the sale will go to the cause and help the PCOS Foundation reach more women and their families.

We need your help to spread the word about PCOS, how it affects the female body, the dangers it poses(increasing the risk for ovarian and breast cancer) and the importance for support. Often times we Cysters feel alone, even when we have the support of our family members and friends, we will have days where it feels like no one understands, that’s where reaching out to other PCOS women comes in, talking with cysters around the globe can sometimes make all the difference. I’ve had friends tell me how strong I am, but honestly there are stronger women out there that I’ve had the privilege in meeting through such online support groups. Women who are worse off health wise and can’t seem to catch a break with their symptoms. Those are the women I look up to, that I see as PCOS Warriors. They never give up even though every inch of them is screaming at them to throw in the towel.

Kim Lukowitz Birdsell and I thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for joining us this month in raising awareness and making a difference in millions of lives.

Be sure to visit the online party, (click HERE) today Kim has an all day game going on you don’t want to miss out on. She’s itching to give away some wraps, so be sure to get on over there, share your favorite color/style wrap for a chance to win that wrap!

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(Please note Jamberry only sells and ships to the US and Canada. But I will be doing giveaways shortly which will include all my readers and followers from all over the world. Don’t miss out on that, more updates to come!)

Got Teal?

 

Creamy Mexican Chicken Casserole

It’s guaranteed that at least once a week I’m making some kind of mexican dish. Most of the time it’s a casserole that’s been requested but other delights such as chimichangas, quesadillas, enchiladas and fully loaded nachos have graced our table numerous times. Well, last Thursday I decided to make a creamy version of green chile chicken enchiladas. While gathering my ingredients I discovered I had no green chiles or salsa verde…that is unheard of since I like to keep both red and green salsa in the house. I had to do what my mama taught me, punt. Think fast of what to substitute with and don’t sweat it.

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Creamy Mexican Chicken Casserole

3–13 ounce cans of chicken in water, drained

1 package favorite taco seasoning

1 Tblsp dried minced onion

1 Tblsp dried minced garlic

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup red salsa + extra for layers

2 cans cream of chicken and mushroom soup

1 tsp roasted garlic and herb grill seasoning

6 large flour tortillas(low carb/high fiber is what I use)

12 slices Pepper Jack Cheese, divided

2 cups cheddar cheese

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Drain chicken and place in a large bowl; combine with taco seasoning, dried minced onion and dried minced garlic. Set aside.

Combine softened cream cheese, canned chicken and mushroom soup, salsa, grill seasoning. Set aside.

In the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish or large disposable aluminum foil pan, place just enough red salsa to cover the inside bottom of the pan. Place two tortillas down and half the seasoned chicken, spread half of the cream cheese mixture evenly over the chicken, and top with six slices of pepper jack cheese. Press the cheese down lightly before adding a little salsa and two more tortillas, repeat layers reserving last 6 slices of pepper jack cheese for the top layer. I took the pepper jack slices and folded them from corner to corner and placed them around the top, no specific pattern. Sprinkle on the cheddar cheese, cover tightly with foil and bake for 45–50 minutes. Remove foil and finish baking for another 15 minutes or until bubbly around the edges. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving and enjoy with sour cream and tortilla chips.

 

NOK’s Tips:

For the cream cheese mixture– If your mixture is too thick to spread, just add a little milk to help thin it out. Not too much, you don’t want it runny.

Family Reviews:

My nephew’s only beef with with this recipe was that I didn’t add any beans to it. When I make mexican chicken casseroles I tend to add great northern beans that have been rinsed. Basically to keep it blanc, but if you want to add beans you can definitely add any that you like! Black, red, or white. Or a mixture thereof. However, he was very pleased that it didn’t have any green chiles in it. Apparently those give him indigestion, thankfully he didn’t have any issues with this casserole. 🙂

My Mom was in love with this version! Just because it was so creamy and cheesy, the chicken was perfectly tender for her, and even my Dad was impressed! So much so he had a second helping, he doesn’t always do that when we eat mexican food. All in all this recipe is easy, prepped within minutes because nothing is cooked on the stove top. It’ll serve 6-10 easily, but you can definitely cut this in half if you need to.

Let me know what you think and happy eating!!